Buddy Does Jersey: Hate Comics Vol. II (Fantagraphics)

budheaderDone terrorizing Seattle, Peter Bagge's slacker hero Buddy Bradley takes on the Garden State in this second collection of tales from the classic 1990s comic Hate.

 

 

Buddy Does Jersey: The Complete Buddy Bradley Stories from "Hate" Comics Vol. II (1994-'98) (Fantagraphics)

352 pgs. B&W; $14.95

(W / P: Peter Bagge; I: Jim Blanchard)

 

Attention hipsters, slackers, Gen-Xers, punks, slobs, ne'er-do-wells, curmudgeons, and geeks, you have a role model. His name is Buddy Bradley and he's about to hit mainstream bookstore shelves everywhere in Buddy Does Jersey, the second volume of cartoonist Peter Bagge's classic 90s comic Hate.

 

Who is this Buddy Bradley? He's a slobby, Gen-X hipster ne'er-do-well geek who just moved back in with his parents in New Jersey after his curmudgeonly ways clashed with Seattle's uber-hip grunge scene, as documented in the first issues of Hate comics, collected in Buddy Does Seattle (collected by Fantagraphics in 2005).

 

All jokes and clichés aside, Buddy is a strange sort of everyman. In this character, loosely based on Bagge himself, readers can find a little bit of themselves, be they the shy nerdy type or members of the sex-crazed bonehead set.

 

Buddy's almost impossibly broad appeal is a testament to Bagge's writing, which gets better with every chapter. As the book goes on, Bagge's stories get more involved, his characters get deeper and the jokes get funnier. His writing improves so much that the first few stories in Buddy Does Seattle pale in comparison.

 

The art gets better too. When these stories were first printed in Hate, they were in color (this book, however, is in black and white). Bagge used a computer to do this, and to make sure his lines were solid enough to withstand Photoshop's paintbucket tool, he hired an inker, Jim Blanchard. Blanchard's linework does wonders for Bagge's drawings, and each page is full of hilariously exaggerated yet smoothly detailed art. Bagge's style isn't for everyone, though. He is heavily influenced by Harvey Kurtzman's work with MAD Magazine (Bagge contributes to the magazine now, too) and it shows. All the grotesque minutiae of life are pulled center stage; this book is not for the overly sensitive or squeamish.

 

But one must wonder if Bagge is trying to make life look despicable. This is scathing work. Bagge uses his pen to slaughter every cow held sacred by hip twentysomethings. He attacks nostalgia freaks, punks, alternative rockers and drug abusers. But even though Bagge says the stories aren't entirely autobiographical, he's clearly not implying any sense of superiority. Buddy, his comical representation of himself, is a nostalgia freak, punk, alternative rocker and alcoholic. Even Buddy's primary life goal, sex, is depicted as an absolutely disgusting act. The drawings of characters in coitus are hilarious and gross, never sexy.

 

And sexy is something this comic isn't. It's not slick or philosophical either. It's just hilarious, sharp critique, just like Mark Twain would have done if he drew comics and lived in the 1990s. | Gabe Bullard

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